Fear and the Music IndustryMikey 3 comments
Despite what the RIAA (recording Industry Association of America) has told us, it appears that downloading and burning your own CD's is not doing the harm they claim. The ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) believes that the 5% drop in CD sales can be attributed to legitimate pressures in other commercial ventures. That is, the consumer is tempted by many other items of choice for themselves or to give as gifts, and seeing as funds are not unlimited (expect for the rich 1% of the country), the humble CD is being left in the cold - slightly.There are 2 major competing game consoles on the market and every boy wants one: an Xbox or a PS2. Albeit expensive toys, clever and expensive marketing tactics have made sure that they both provide a steady source of recurring revenue for Microsoft and Sony in the form of the video games that need to be purchased on a semi-regular basis to keep our kids off the streets. Our kids are well aware that we know they own one of these luxury game consoles, so we better be buying them the latest Medal of Honour game for Christmas or Hell have no fury like a child scorned.
On the other side of the spectrum we have the DVD player. You can now purchase a DVD player for less than $100, and every man and his dog wants the Arnold Swarzenegger collection and Harry Potter for the kids. The DVD is more frequently becoming the gift of choice.
So when faced with the daunting task of purchasing a Christmas or Birthday present for Johnny and co, it used to be a no-brainer. Get them the latest Eminem CD and be done with it. But now the consumer is faced with choice. CD, DVD, or Game?
Before I go any further, let us take a look at some historical moments that we were led to believe would destroy industry.
- The photocopier was supposed to stop people buying books
- The humble radio was supposed to kill sales of records
- The tape recorder was supposed to stop people buying records
- The VCR was supposed to stop us from going to the cinemas
- The game console was supposed to stop people going to the arcades
- International artists were supposed to kill sales of Australian music
- Television was supposed to stop people leaving their homes
You know what is missing from that list? "Mp3's will kill the recording industry". Sounds strangely familiar doesn't it?
All during these transitional times we have be told that use of any of these devices is morally wrong. Of course you can imagine where this guff originated form. The kids who play the video games? No. The adults who like to stay home and watch a good movie? Not likely. The teenagers who bought the new American Idol album? Absolutely not. How about the record company executive who fears he may not be able to buy that 2nd BMW he has been saving for all month? Probably.
So Australia seems to be taking a realistic view of the problem, instead of simply blaming the new technology. This of course will be viewed as a giant step backwards for the RIAA who have been claiming massive income losses as a direct result of Johnny Mp3's downloading habits. But hang on. Doesn't America also have game consoles and DVD technology? Can't this account for the reduction of CD sales?
According to DVD Information.com, in 2002 US consumers spent 20.3 billion dollars purchasing and renting DVD's. According to figures compiled by Ernst & Young on behalf of the DVD Entertainment Group, approximately 260 million units of DVD software shipped in the fourth quarter of 2002, a 90 percent increase over those shipped in the same quarter last year. In excess of 685 million DVD software units were shipped in 2002 - more than the previous five years combined - bringing the total number of units shipped to 1.36 billion since launch.
Add to the equation that music on DVD in now becoming even more popular. For a few dollar more, why not get the latest American Idol DVD instead of a lousy CD?
With DVD players estimated to be in more than half of the 290 million American households, that to me seems like a substantially large part of the market that could potentially steal revenue from music sales.
AT this point I would like to point out that I am not encouraging you to all fire up Kazaa and start downloading Mp3's until your eyes bleed. We all need to be aware that downloading music is stealing, copying said music onto a CD is piracy, and giving a copy to your Mum for her birthday is distribution of stolen goods. These facts are not in dispute. It is up to the individual to decide if it is worth the risk. With the RIAA sending out law suits and summons faster than it takes to download marilyn_manson.mp3, and their lawyers fighting to steal your privacy rights so that your ISP can release your identity to them, it is probably better to buy that new Hottest 100 CD than listen to it in jail for 5 years.